Port NOLA Unveils Design Details for St. Bernard Terminal
NEW ORLEANS — At an Oct. 27 event, leaders of the Port of New Orleans gave a progress report on efforts to build the $1.5 billion Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish.
Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy Christian said the updated plan incorporates feedback from the St. Bernard community on “traffic, neighborhood buffers, drainage and more.”
“The input we received over the past two years from conversations at our community office, our two Community Advisory Councils, three public open houses, and two 30-day public notice periods gave us valuable insight,” said Christian. “We are listening, and we will continue to ask for feedback in order to deliver a project that provides opportunity and protects quality of life.”
The port hopes the facility, to be located on nearly 1,100 acres in Violet, will serve the larger vessels that are becoming more and more commonplace in the container industry. Officials said that, without a terminal downriver from the Crescent City Connection Bridge, Louisiana stands to lose to competing ports in the Gulf.
The project is at the beginning of a federal permitting process required under the National Environmental Policy Act that involves studies on traffic, cultural resources, wetlands, air quality and other topics. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the process, will analyze the results from those studies and decide if it will issue permits for construction. In addition, the port is engaged in a public relations battle of sorts with a group of well-funded activists who oppose the development.
The port hopes to break ground in 2025 and to open the first berth in 2028.
“Not only does container shipping deliver goods to our grocery stores and packages to our doorsteps, but it’s also how Louisiana manufacturers and agricultural producers get their products to market,” said Christian. “If our state is to remain in the container shipping business — and to retain exports and grow imports — we must build the Louisiana International Terminal.”
“The Port of New Orleans has long been a key driver of our regional and national economy, supporting thousands of jobs,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc. “The Louisiana International Terminal is vital to ensuring that our region remains a global logistical hub. What’s more, the investments made by the Port of New Orleans will provide well-paying jobs and drive tax revenue across St. Bernard Parish and the region.”
Port NOLA said it will make “massive investments” in sustainability, including shore power that will allow vessels to connect to onshore electricity and to turn off diesel engines while at dock. The port’s operators will also invest in a largely electric fleet of equipment, and the terminal will also accommodate container-on-barge services, which move containers up and down the river by barge rather than road or rail.
Perhaps the linchpin of the entire project is the design and construction of a road to get trucks to and from the terminal. The port said the project will be a catalyst to “align public and private resources to make a long-imagined public roadway in Lower St. Bernard into a reality.”
Port officials said the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor, which would connect lower St. Bernard to the interstate system, has received a $50 million commitment in funding from the Louisiana Legislature and has been added to the Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Last week, the State released $2 million of those funds for the Regional Planning Commission to conduct a feasibility study on the corridor, which will begin shortly. The road would serve the terminal and the public.
The port said its engineering team has designed a layout that keeps St. Bernard Highway close to its original location and “includes more buffers to separate neighborhoods from the terminal, an overpass for cars to avoid a rail track crossing, space for the Merrick Cemetery to expand, and space for a Parish-planned bike and pedestrian path along the levee.”
To address drainage concerns, the plan includes a system of pumps and canals, and an onsite pumping station that will be managed by the Port.
The port estimates that the Louisiana International Terminal will deliver an economic impact that begins with construction, grows when the terminal opens, and continues to increase over time. The new terminal will “bring 17,000 new direct and indirect jobs, $1 billion in new tax revenue to the state, $470 million to St. Bernard Parish, and a 15% increase in personal income in the parish by 2050,” said officials.
“Our state’s future rests in competing in a global market. So, we must invest in a trade-based economy. We must invest like our Southern-state neighbors or get left behind. And if we do it right, we have the opportunity to be the next generation leader in global trade,” said Christian.